Roger Chamberlain and Paul Gazelka (
by Steve Timmer
Apr 13, 2020, 9:30 AM

We don’t need no stinkin’ plans!

I have written here and here, and well, here, too, about the yapping and ankle biting by Republicans about the executive orders of Governor Walz, especially to close restaurants and bars, and to require people to shelter at home.

Unnecessary! Economic suicide! We have a plan!

Okay, I made that last one up. If bile was a plan, we’d have one, but it’s isn’t.

It seems there are two approaches, broadly stated, to controlling the virus: make everyone stay home indefinitely, and something called test-trace-quarantine. There are states, nonprofits, former government officials, disease specialists, and companies such as Apple and Google are getting behind this approach. But not the White House.

A national plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and return Americans to jobs and classrooms is emerging — but not from the White House.

Instead, a collection of governors, former government officials, disease specialists and nonprofits are pursuing a strategy that relies on the three pillars of disease control: Ramp up testing to identify people who are infected. Find everyone they interact with by deploying contact tracing on a scale America has never attempted before. And focus restrictions more narrowly on the infected and their contacts so the rest of society doesn’t have to stay in permanent lockdown.

But there is no evidence yet the White House will pursue such a strategy.

Instead, the president and his top advisers have fixated almost exclusively on plans to reopen the U.S. economy by the end of the month, though they haven’t detailed how they will do so without triggering another outbreak. [ ]

As an aside, the mayor New York City and the governor of New York said they were going to test, trace, and quarantine everyone on a flight with New York’s patient zero.

A 39-year-old woman took Flight 701 from Doha, Qatar, to John F. Kennedy International Airport in late February, the final leg of her trip home to New York City from Iran.

A week later, on March 1, she tested positive for the coronavirus, the first confirmed case in New York City of an outbreak that had already devastated China and parts of Europe. The next day, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, appearing with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference, promised that health investigators would track down every person on the woman’s flight. But no one did.

Although we don’t know, because nobody checked it out, it is probable that the flight patient zero was on explains a lot of the contagion in New York City and environs; Donald Trump’s closure of the border with China, of which he is so proud, didn’t help a bit. (Of course it came from China; it’s the Chinese virus, says the president.)

If Paul Gazelka, Roger Chamberlain, Jason Lewis, or Kevin Roche had said, “We have to test, trace, and quarantine people exposed to the virus,” THAT would be a plan.

But there’s a hairball on the rug: we don’t have the ability to test large numbers of people. In fact, many people with symptoms cannot tested, as we know. That’s the reason the president is not advocating that approach either.

Governor Walz said in a recent news conference that Minnesota is doing pretty well compared to everybody else; he didn’t say “everybody else,” I did, but that how you measure “pretty well’ — and it is by any measure — but that it could all go “sideways” very easily.

Principal cheerleaders for sideways are pictured above. Maybe not really; maybe they’re just trying to score political points while silently thanking their lucky stars they aren’t the governor right now.

It’s curious, isn’t it, that both the president and Gazelka, et al., have the same prescription? Open ‘er up! If you believe in the mythic personage Sara Dippedy, you may think this is a coincidence. I personally think the local chihuahuas just take their orders from the Big Chihuahua.

Ready to bite some ankles (via

It would be one thing if this was a shrewd political plan, but it’s a national suicide pact. The chihuahuas want to let the genie out of the bottle even before it’s in the bottle.

It sounds like a suicide pact more and more every day. Attorney General Bill Bar and the Justice Department said they would “crack down” if state or local officials tried to prohibit communal worship on Easter, also known as corona communion.

There is of course a point where even the Free Exercise Clause yields to public safety. But the threat to well-meaning local officials is stark.

Recall also that the president claims “full authority” over the economy. Does that mean he can countermand a lawful state or local order of quarantine or closure of gatherings, and order the serfs back to work? I am sure Trump thinks that what it means.

Get ready to drink the Kool-Aid, everybody.

The president seems to think that if he says Giddy-up economy! it will obey his command. But the economy is only likely to recover when people feel secure that the pandemic is contained. It is said that Wall Street is ruled by greed and fear. Main Street is ruled by consumer confidence. Without it, the economy goes nowhere. A big second wave of corona virus infections will dash consumer confidence.

Donald Trump is in trouble and he knows it. He has a lot to answer for. Although he claims to be a Presbyterian, Open ‘er up! is a Hail Mary attempt to save his cratering approval and chances for re-election. It’s just too bad he’s willing to endanger, well sacrifice, so many lives to do it.


And just this (Monday) morning, the president asserted the power I mentioned: the power to determine for the states when things will open up, countermanding public safety orders by governors or other local officials. As the article at the link says, it’s unclear whether whether he has that authority. The tension between the authority of the federal government and the police power of the states is long standing. But public safety is one area where the authority of states and their governments is paramount.

That seems to me to be especially true when the president is a delusional maniac, an emerging Jim Jones figure for whom no sacrifice — by others — is too great for his vanity and ambition.

Addendum 2

“I am the capo dei capi,” boasts the president. But he’s not.

While the president appears convinced he is the only one empowered to make the critical determination [to “reopen” the economy], his extraordinary assertions of authority over the states astounded legal scholars, leaving them wondering, as they have before about Trump’s broad claims, where on earth he got them.

The president is an astounding guy, I’ll give him that.

There are some cheeky, so to speak, answers to where the president gets his claims.

Addendum 3

Among his many other traits, the president is a threatening bully. A tweet from the morning of April 14th.

Words from a Captain Bligh figure

I wonder which movie the president is thinking of, the one with Marlon Brando or the one with Mel Gibson? I’m betting on Gibson. The president is probably unaware of the trilogy of novels about the mutiny, The Bounty Trilogy.

Addendum 4

Blois Olson reports in his newsletter on April 17th:

POLL: From Jeffrey M. Jones via Gallup, VERBATIM: “Americans’ evaluations of the economy have abruptly turned negative amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is now -32, down from +22 in March. The 54-point drop is the largest one-month change in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1992, and it comes on the heels of last month’s 19-point drop, which had been one of the largest monthly declines to date.  [emphasis added] Just two months ago, economic confidence was the highest it had been in 20 years.” READ:


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